Saturday, 10 September 2016


Cromarty → Nigg Ferry

renfrew-rose.jpg Distance: 0.89 miles
Ascent: 2 metres
Duration: 9 hours 53 minutes

A promise of the future
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This very short "walk" is the reason we came back so soon. The smallest car ferry in the UK runs across the mouth of the Cromarty Firth, but since its season runs from July to September and it didn't run at all last year, we wanted to make the crossing now to save ourselves the extra 50 miles or so that circumnavigating the Firth would entail.

cromarty-harbour.jpgSo what are we missing? Rigs. Lots and lots of oil rigs. The Cromarty Firth provides a good deepwater shelter, so engineering firms have sprung up on its northern banks to service rigs that are towed in from the North Sea. I counted a dozen or so stretching back to the head of the firth. Apparently the low price of oil at the moment makes it an ideal time to catch up on maintenance work that was postponed when the price was high (and therefore it was sensible to keep the rigs on the well heads). Oil used to be the future. Looking at these tired, mammoth structures now, I'm not so sure.

Cromarty itself is a delightful town, with an old stone harbour. Two hundred years ago many Highlanders who had been cleared from their land used this as the embarkation point for ships taking them to a promised brighter future. Looking across the the Sutors of Cromarty – two tall hills on either side of the firth – it's hard to imagine a more dramatic departure point.

When the ferry docked at Nigg, we stepped off onto the slipway to end the "walk", then immediately re-boarded for the last sailing back. I wonder how may emigrants would've loved to have the opportunity to return as easily as we had when their long journey was over.

Posted by pab at 17:23 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!